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Is this what all of us have to look forward to? Or are certain people more likely than others to suffer from mental illness in old age? Is this considered the "normal" course of life?

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Current statistics state that 50% of the population will develop Alzheimer's/dementia by age 85. Alzheimer's dementia is a disease of its own just like diabetes, it is not a normal part of aging. The difference between normal aging forgetfulness is a find line in the beginning of Alz/dementia. Normal aging is you forget a word to describe something and remember the right word an hour later. A year later the situation has not changed. However with Alz/dementia, a year later, the person is confused about the entrance to a business they have done business with for many year but they did some remodeling 5 years ago and the entrance was temporarily changed and your loved one insists that the temporary entrance is the correct one. In other words, it is not just forgetfulness, when confusion enters the picture, it's time for an evaluation and serious discussions. I know a 92 year old woman who does income tax returns as a volunteer for AARP. She is very sharp, she forgets a word now and then but is fully aware of the situation you are discussing with her. Alz/dementia has genetic links that can be tested to determine if you have the gene. Having the gene does not necessarily mean you will get the disease just as having the gene for breast cancer determines you will get breast cancer. My father passed away in 2003 from Alz/Dementia. My mother now 84 has moderate Alz/dementia. Realistically, my changes of developing the Disease is much higher that someone whose parents did not have this Disease. What I telling you about is Alzheimer's related dementia, there are other forms such as Lewy Body Dementia, Vascular Dementia, etc. These other forms I have no experience with. My paternal grandfather had Alzheimer's. 3 of my mother's siblings who lived into their 80's or older had Alzheimer's. You get my drift, some families pass on cancer, diabetes, and heart disease...other pass on Alz/Dementia. This is just my opinion based on what I have read. Others may have other information to help you as well. Hugs to you!!
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Thank you-for your answers. I have no relatives of old age to ask -or to witness any of these struggles. I work in an Assisted Living home and feel sad when I see these beautiful souls in such a different "world". I wondered if they realize "why" they are in their "new" life and home- or if everything has faded from their minds completely.
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No. Not everyone gets dementia. The longer you live, the greater your risk, but not all people develop dementia no matter how long they live. My aunt lived to 100 with no dementia. My mother, in her mid nineties, has it now. Their mother was never diagnosed with dementia but she was "senile" in her late 90s.

I'm sure if you have many people in your own family who lived long lives that your story is similar ... some developed dementia, many did not. Right?
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There is a difference between "senior moments" and the signs of dementia.

A senior moment would be forgetting where you leave your keys....while an early sign of dementia could be leaving your keys in an unusual place...the oven, the dishwasher, something like that.
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